Ride-hailing firm Fasten on Friday announced that it is leaving the Austin market after agreeing to be sold to Vezet Group, a Russian-based transportation network.
Fasten said that it will freeze its service nationwide on Monday because of the sale. Boston, where the company is based, is the only other city where Fasten operates.
Fasten said it expects to close the sale by the end of March.
“We’re very proud of the product that we’ve built. We hope that we’ve left our mark on the ride-hailing industry here with our focus on putting people first – and that we’ve inspired positive change for drivers,” Fasten CEO Kirill Evdakov said in a written statement Friday. “Fasten will continue on, just in a different incarnation, powering a key player in the Russian market.”
Fasten was among a group of ride-hailing phone applications that launched in Austin after ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft left the local market in May 2016.
Uber and Lyft left because of a dispute with Austin City Council regarding background check requirements for drivers. The council had mandated that companies fingerprint-background check their drivers, a rule Uber and Lyft opposed. Both companies ended service within Austin’s city limits after Austin residents voted to uphold the ordinance.
Uber and Lyft returned a year later following a new state ride-hailing law that superseded the local ordinance, and since then, some of the other ride-hailing companies in town have struggled. The Fare and GetMe apps both left the market last year, while the RideAustin app has reported a lower number of users since Uber and Lyft’s return.
Fasten’s departure comes just days before Austin will host South by Southwest, the massive film, interactive, media and music conference that is usually a boon for on-demand car services. Fasten was one of a few companies last year that operated during the conference, though the app experienced some glitches during the event because of high demand.
Fasten launched in Boston in October 2015. Vezet Group, which was established in 2017, operates in more than 100 cities in Russia and its surrounding region, according to the company.
“Fasten was able to create one of the top technologies in the world with very limited resources,” Vezet Group spokesman Alexander Kostikov said in a written statement Friday. “We are happy that with this acquisition everything they've built will help us to strengthen a leadership position in Russia, our domestic market where we put our full focus.”
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